Government must move towards collective bargaining for better health and safety for workers

Ivana Bacik TD
27 April 2023

Marking Workers’ Memorial Day 2023, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said Government must move to provide collective bargaining rights to all workers to ensure greater safety in the workplace.

Deputy Bacik said recent incidents in Stryker, Co. Cork, where two workers were injured, Government cannot wait for shocking events to precipitate engagement with workers.

Deputy Bacik said:

“Every year on this date, we remember those who have died or have become injured or ill in the course of their employment. Those who have died and their families who were left behind are foremost in our minds today. But we cannot forget the workers who have been left to cope with debilitating injuries and impacts to both their physical and mental health as a result of workplace incidents.

“Today’s remembrance must also be an opportunity to reflect on the strength of our health and safety procedures in the workplace. Ensuring high health and safety standards in the workplace is simply not enough. To ensure no worker is forced into taking unnecessary risks, we need to understand the financial pressure they are under, the wages paid, their living conditions and the capacity of that wage to afford them a decent standard of living.

“We recall the famous labour activist Mary Harris or “Mother” Jones whose message was “Pray for the Dead, Fight like Hell for the Living”. The most basic of worker’s rights is the right to come home safe from your day’s work. Poor practice and standards must be challenged through the combined and mutual effort of workers and employers to build a culture of prevention.

“Enshrining a right to collective bargaining, a right to organise workers to engagement with employers, is crucial to achieving this. Workers should feel free to speak up when they see hazards that could be a danger to themselves or to others.

“The Labour Party is committed to legislating for a right to collective bargaining with stiff penalties for anyone found to be impeding workers from organising in a trade union. Ultimately, workers will only be able to secure decent improvements to their terms and conditions, and the full due regard to their health and safety, if they are organised.”

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